Wizardry III: The Salutory Effects of Caution

I’m probably being too cautious, if such a thing is possible. I’ve got a full roster of 20 characters with experience levels ranging from 3 to 7, and I’m making a point of swapping out the higher-level ones and always having a low-level guy in the back row who I’m training up. If I keep it up, I’ll never be in the demoralizing state of “My A team just got TPKed and everyone else is so far behind them!” — there is no A team, just individuals who are temporarily ahead of the pack.

As a result, I’m getting an extended tour of aspects of the low-level stuff that I kind of skipped over in Wiz1&2 with the help of Murphy’s Ghost. At level 5, your primary spellcasters start to learn third-level spells, which means your priests finally get LOMILWA. Before that, there can actually be secret doors you’re not aware of. Mages, at the same point, get MAHALITO, the first direct damage that affects an entire group, and although I seldom used it at all with my power-leveled heroes in the previous episodes, it’s as much of a game-changer here as Fireball is in D&D. How do you deal with big stacks before you get it? Mainly with KATINO, the sleep spell, followed by your front-row fighters hurrying to slaughter them by hand before they wake up. There are spells to improve your armor class and to unimprove that of your opponents, but I haven’t found them worthwhile at this level — when you don’t have a lot of spell slots, you want to use them on things that can take enemies out of battle entirely, not just give you a relative advantage.

The most absurd result of my craven tactics is an overabundance of bishops. Why bishops? Because bishops are the spellcasting class it makes the most sense to put in your party at level 1. A level 1 mage has two mage spell slots, and a level-1 priest has two priest spell slots, but a level-1 bishop has two of each type. (This was not the case in Wizardry 1, where bishops didn’t start to learn priest spells until level 4. I guess the “legacy” process really does make a difference.) So when you’re in the “send hordes of characters into the dungeon and get most of them killed” stage, it just doesn’t make sense to create spellcasters other than bishops. Before I made level 2, every party I sent down there consisted of three fighters and three bishops. But the fighters, being fighters, tended to get killed, while most of the bishops survived. And because of my policy that anyone with XP is precious and shouldn’t be cast away lightly, they’re still hanging around, slowing down the leveling-up process through sheer numbers.

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